When students arrive to class, I ask them to take out a sheet of paper and draw a Circle Map. The topic, listed in the center is "Woman". In a circle map, students are given a short period of time and are expected to write down all the words and phrases they can think of relating to the topic provided. I give them 2-3 minutes for this task, depending on the group of students and their particular needs.
Once my timer goes off, I instruct the students to pair up with another student in close proximity. This can be done in groups of three, but I prefer it in pairs, personally. Before I allow them to pair up, I describe the next part of their task: They are to establish who is partner A and who is partner B. Partner A will be the listener first as partner B shares the words and phrases from his or her list. I give the students one minute for this. As partner B is sharing, partner A is adding any of the words and phrases partner B says that he or she does not have listed on his or her own list. I then ask the students to switch role and repeat the process. I then ask the students to, on their own circle the 3 most significant, meaningful, and/or original items they have in their circles.
I spend the next 3 minutes or so asking students from all around the room to share out the items they selected to circle. Again, I tell students they are to write down significant or meaningful terms and phrases they do not already have.
I like this activity as a starting point for this three day lesson because it helps the students reach some sort of common ground. Since we are focusing on the issue of a woman's rights over time in America as well as what two women seem to think about what it means to be a woman, it is important for us to establish the common ground. I find that my male students, for obvious reasons, learn quite a bit from this exercise alone. I also find that my female students are often surprised that I know anything at all about the topic, which makes it fun for me as well.
The remainder of the class period is dedicated to a teacher-led close reading activity (Ain't I a Woman CLOSE Read). I lead the discussion using the Sojourner Truth and Maya Angelou CLOSE reads Powerpoint presentation. I provide the text, "Ain't I a Woman?", a well-known speech given by Sojourner Truth for the students. I like the students to follow a reasonably formulaic approach to most close reading activity, as I find the process to really help the students scaffold for themselves when they are required to read complex texts on their own. Of course, when the students read independently at other times, they have great freedom to determine what order they will do things in, and sometimes whether they will even complete certain steps at all. However, for this particular lesson, I will lead them through it, step-by-step. In order to help them build a greater understanding as to why this is necessary, I talk to them about how certain texts mean one thing when read at a superficial level, and how they may have much more meaning when we put effort into looking for that meaning a little harder. I also clarify for them that not all text require close reading, but that practicing these skills will prepare them for the times when it is necessary to read closely and dig deeply.
I project my powerpoint on the front board for the students to follow, although I also have the steps attached to the text as well. I have them attached to the text for a variety of reasons, the most significant of which being in cases when a student is absent and has to play catch-up, or if a student needs to move at a different pace than his or her peers.
This step-by-step process leads the students from the superficial, general comprehension of the text, to (ideally) a more thorough, broader, and deeper understanding of the text. We take the entire time remaining in the classroom to work through it. This portion requires me to pay very careful attention to the pace my students are moving at. I have a solid general idea, but the ebbs and flows vary daily and from class to class. I really push to get through the key points by the time the period is through. This way, if students have any remaining work to do independently from home, the tasks are those most appropriate for them. One short cut I sometimes must take is when students are identifying figurative language. I help guide them to the key pieces and remind them they will be able to come back and continue with that later on.